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6 Vaccines Seniors Should Get

By Lauren Robison, 9:00 am on

Vaccinations are often associated with childhood, but are just as important for seniors. Many immunizations start to wear off over time, so seniors should get booster shots. There are even some vaccines that children or younger adults may not need, but are useful for the elderly. Caregivers should talk to a doctor about getting their loved one immunized for the following six diseases.

If you are the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality elder home care, New Hampshire Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.

1. Shingles

The herpes zoster virus causes both shingles and chickenpox, and it can lie dormant in the body after a childhood bout of chickenpox. It can also reemerge in old age as shingles, an extremely painful rash. This vaccine provides protection against shingles and its recurrence for at least five years. 

2. Pneumonia

Not all forms of pneumonia are preventable, but most cases are caused by an infection of the streptococcus pneumonia bacteria. This type of pneumonia is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in the United States. A yearly dose of the pneumococcal disease vaccine can prevent seniors from developing the dangerous complications associated with the infection.

3. Tetanus

Most people associate tetanus with wounds caused by rusty metal, but the disease can occur any time a certain type of bacteria enters an open wound. Immunity to tetanus gradually decreases, so the U.S. Department of Health recommends seniors get a booster shot for it every 10 years. If your loved one gets cut or scratched, it may be a good idea to get a booster shot even if he or she is not yet due for it.

4. Pertussis

Also known as whooping cough, this illness spreads rapidly in nursing homes and senior living facilities. Though it is most common among infants, seniors have the second highest risk of getting this dangerous illness because of weakened immune systems. Even if your loved one has already been vaccinated for whooping cough, a booster can be beneficial.

5. Diphtheria

Diphtheria is a respiratory disease caused by bacteria. It results in a thick membrane that covers the throat. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the breathing issues caused by diphtheria. Though this illness is completely preventable with vaccination, it can be deadly when left untreated. Tetanus, pertussis, and diphtheria vaccinations are often combined into a single “Tdap” booster that makes it easier and less unpleasant for seniors to get vaccinated.

When a senior falls ill, relatively mild diseases can become complicated because of a weakened immune system. This can be challenging for caregivers. New Hampshire respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.

6. Influenza

Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by an entire family of viruses. Each year, seniors should get vaccinated against the most commonly circulating influenza viruses. Usually the flu is just an inconvenience for adults, but it can cause serious complications in seniors with weakened immune systems. A special high-dose version of the shot is being developed for seniors over the age of 65 because this age group should avoid getting the flu.

Vaccinating your senior loved one is especially important if he or she has a serious age-related medical condition such as Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who do not have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. For trusted New Hampshire Alzheimer’s care, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. Call (603) 471-3004 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly and knowledgeable Care Manager.